Victoria Perez spent 10 months as a migrant smuggler and made $200,000 over that time.
According to Washington Times the $200,000 she earned for what was essentially part-time work exceeds the annual salary of a member of Congress. It works out to three times the starting pay for Border Patrol agent. Perez was a gig worker, contracting herself as a driver for a much larger organization.
The surge of illegal immigrants is enriching the cartels. That's true to an extent, but most of the money ends up not in the hands of the Gulf Cartel or Zetas, but in the pockets of people like Perez.
"Demand is so strong that the prices are going up. There's huge huge money being made right now." said Todd Bensman, a fellow at the huge Center for Immigration Studies who tracks smuggling tactics.
What the cartels are selling is a vision: the American dream. People who have the cash or more often are willing to go into debt pay big money to chase that dream. According to The Times data, Mexicans paid an average of about $7,900 in February 2020 before the pandemic upended cross-border traffic. Payments in February 2021 rose to $8,900. Central Americans' average payment increased from $9,400 last year to $11,000.
Like so much about illegal immigration, a massive range of of uncertainty is involved. For one thing, it's impossible to know exactly how many people are coming across the border.
“The winners here in open borders are the cartels,” said Mark Morgan, a former chief of the Border Patrol and acting commissioner at Customs and Border Protection in the Trump administration.
Business is so good that operations are expanding. The Big Bend area of Texas, which is so rugged and remote that smugglers usually have avoided it, has suddenly become active.
“They’ve got so much revenue now and so many more resources available to them they’re able to take these tactics and open up new franchises now, and Big Bend is one of the franchises now,” Mr. Morgan said.
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